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Roundtable Discussion Examines Life of Günter Grass During German Literature Day

Emily Darrow

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The Office of the Dean of International Studies and the German Studies Program at Bard College presents “German Literature Day” on Tuesday, May 8. All programs are free and open to the public and are held in the Weis Cinema of the Bertelsmann Campus Center.

Between Subversion and Submission: The Amazon Myth and Its Challenge to Gender Norms in Medieval German Literature,” is the topic of a lecture at 4:30 p.m. by Cordula Politis, Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College, Dublin.

A roundtable discussion at 7:30 p.m., “The Life of Günter Grass: Peeling the Onion,” is moderated by Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, and features panelists Ian Buruma, author of Murder in Amsterdam, Henry R. Luce Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard; Florian Becker, assistant professor of German at Bard; and Ernestine Bradley, author of The Way Home: A German Childhood, An American Life.

Considered Germany’s most famous living author, Günter Grass revealed in his 2006 autobiography, Peeling the Onion, that he had been a member of the Nazi Waffen-SS during World War II. “It was a weight on me,” Grass, Nobel laureate and author of The Tin Drum, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine in 2006. “My silence over all these years is one of the reasons I wrote the book. It had to come out finally.”

For further information, call 845-758-7816 or e-mail

About the Speakers:

Florian Becker, director of the German Studies Program and assistant professor of German at Bard, received a B.A. degree from Magdalen College, Oxford University, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His dissertation topic is Epistemic Strategies in Twentieth-Century German Theatre: Brecht, Weiss, Müller. Becker is the recipient of a Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities (2002–03). He taught literature, philosophy, and German at Princeton.

Leon Botstein has been president of Bard College since 1975. He is also the Leon Levy Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Bard. He received his B.A. degree with special honors in history from the University of Chicago, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in European history from Harvard. Dr. Botstein has been the music director of the American Symphony Orchestra since 1992 and conducts the ASO’s subscription concert series at Lincoln Center. In 2003, he was appointed the music director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra of the Israel Broadcast Authority. He is editor of The Musical Quarterly. He has published more than 100 articles and reviews on music, education, history, and culture. He was editor of Quasi una Fantasia: Juden und die Musikstadt Wien, published in 2003 by Wolke Verlag; an English translation, Jews and the City of Vienna, 1870–1938, was published in 2004 by Yale University Press. He also edited The Compleat Brahms, published in 1999 by Norton. He is author of Jefferson’s Children: Education and the Promise of American Culture, published in 1997 by Doubleday. His book Judentum und Modernität: Essays zur Rolle der Juden in der Deutschen und Österreichischen Kultur 1848–1938 was published in 1991 by Böhlau Verlag in Vienna; a Russian translation was published in 2003.

Ernestine Bradley, a naturalized American citizen, is the author of The Way Home: A German Childhood, An American Life and is the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley. She is visiting associate professor of humanities at the New School and visiting professor of liberal studies and professor emerita of German and comparative literature at Montclair State University. Bradley taught French at Spelman College, German at SUNY Stony Brook, and has held visiting professorships at Yale and Columbia Universities. She is well known for her research on anti-Semitism in postwar German and Austrian literature and has published a book on the subject, The Language of Silence: West German Literature and the Holocaust. Bradley is also author of Die Philosophie Hermann Brochs and Hermann Broch, and coeditor of Legacies and Ambiguities: Postwar Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan.

Ian Buruma is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Human Rights and Journalism at Bard College and author of Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance. Previous books include Behind the Mask, The Wages of Guilt, Anglomania, and Bad Elements. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, Guardian, Financial Times, and other publications in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

Cordula Politis, author of The Individualization of Fortune in the Sixteenth-Century Novels of Jörg Wickram: The Beginnings of the Modern Narrative in German Literature (Mellen Press, 2007), received a Ph.D. from Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) and currently holds an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Germanic Studies at TCD. She is a member of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, TCD, and has published several articles on medieval and early modern German literature

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This event was last updated on 05-09-2007